Review: MetaSquares is the iPhone’s “Tetris” - Macenstein

Review: MetaSquares is the iPhone’s “Tetris”

Yes, that’s certainly a bold claim. However, my Tetris comparison is not meant to compare game types between the two (you’ll find no falling bricks here), but rather to convey the type of single-minded, addictive gameplay the two games share.

This is now what I see when I close my eyes.

To me the best games, whether on consoles or portable devices are usually puzzle/strategy games, and MetaSquares is my current favorite.

Like any truly great game, the concept is simple yet mastering the game will take time and skill. In order to win, you alternate turns with the computer (your iPhone) while placing colored ball on the game board. The object is to try to create “squares” on the board by snagging four corners, al the while watching your opponent’s moves and trying to block him from getting his squares. Squares can be either straight or angled, and the larger the square, and the more severe the angle, the more points that square will be worth. The first opponent to score at least 150 points with a 15 point lead wins that round.

As each new square is created you are awarded points based on its size and dificulty.

The game quickly ratchets up the difficulty, and I have found that by level 7 (where I am stuck now) you have to have some pretty insane spatial relationship skills (don’t expect to get past level 4 without being able to “see” diagonal squares). Still, even when you hit a wall (as I did on levels 5 and 6) I found with perseverance (and a some occasional luck) you can make a come back on even the most hopeless level.

MetaSquares has a couple different “skins” you can choose, but I found them distracting and stuck with the original for the most part.


MetaSquares is so good that I am a little extra disappointed at a glaringly obvious omission that keeps the game from achieving true greatness. The game is in desperate need of a multiplayer mode. I would accept a “pass the iPhone” mode, but what it really needs is Wi-Fi play against another iPhone user, like Battle At Sea has. One thing developers should keep in mind is that iPhone users have a tendency to hang out with other iPhone users, so the social aspect to iPhone gaming should not be overlooked.

Ahhh… the naked game board… full of the possibility for both glory, and humiliation.

(It’s also a little sad that I now think of my iPhone as the enemy. Why couldn’t they just call the AI “computer?”, or “MetaBot”? Why drag my iPhone’s name into this?).


MetaSquares is one of those rare games where you actually feel like you’ve accomplished something when you beat each level – almost as if it has made you somehow smarter. Of course, the real joy in playing a “brain game” like this is knowing that you are doing better than other people, so hopefully the developers will be adding multi-player support soon, because as it stands now the computer is making me feel stupid, and I need to beat somebody!


Price: $2.99
Pros: A very clever and addicting puzzle/strategy game that will keep you busy for hours
Cons: No multi-player support is a major disappointment

14 Responses to “Review: MetaSquares is the iPhone’s “Tetris””
  1. Brandon says:

    my only question is if its worth it to pay the three dollars, or just use the free web app that they used to have for it at least

  2. MetaTools says:

    Dr. Macenstein,

    Thanks for the great review. In fact, we are doing final bug testing on an update to MetaSquares that includes a hot potato two player mode and language support for Spanish, German, and Japanese. We hope to upload it this week and work continues on true multiplayer (wi-fi) support.


  3. RJ says:

    I bought this game after reading the review and comments. It reminds me of Pentago (one of my favorite board games). This is one of the more cerebral games on the iPhone and I’m excited to see the developer chime in on the comments with promised upgrades. I’ll definitely be enjoying this game for a long time.

  4. Fuzzy says:

    Downloaded this yesterday afternoon and next thing I knew, it was 11:30 at night and I was playing it still. I did get to level 9 but man, it’s a tough one. Thanks for making me use my noodle-brain.

  5. Sam says:

    I played this on the web app well before the App Store existed, and when I saw it pop up there, I bought it because I thought I’d already gotten at least $2.99 worth of play out of it and wanted to support its development. It’s definitely a nice buy and was actually just my second purchase (first was Aqua Forest – thanks for that recommendation Doc!) from the App Store.

  6. sebastian s. says:

    great another useless ap to waste the precious time of my life i dont even know why i waste 30 seconds to write this useless comment..

  7. Chuck Smith says:

    I’d have to certainly agree that Metasquares is the best puzzle game for the iPhone! Just wanted to let you know you can find my interview with the head developer of Metasquares on my blog at

  8. sowhat says: to level 16, anyone knows how far that goes ?

  9. femmebot says:

    I’m on level 110. I’m also wondering how far it goes 🙁

  10. I used to play this game when it was a freebie AOL game. In fact, it was the ONLY reason I had AOL. I played for hours, and the competition was great. If you folks remember a guy named MetaMonk, visit my site and chime in…

    I don’t have the iPhone, so I can’t get the app!!

  11. Susan says:

    I also used to play this game at AOL, hello MetaMonk! I used to play as Uncachable, and I sure miss my old playing buddy Paxtor… the game is exactly the same, except for the absence of multiplayer fun. thee was a great community of players at AOL with rankings etc. it was especially fun to challenge someone with a higher ranking and increase your own ranking if you won the match.

    Anyway…. can’t wait for whatever develops in MetaWorld…. I’m here to stay.

  12. Curt says:

    After MetaSquares left AOL and found no new home, I searched out programmers working to revive the game and did a bit to help push along the MetaSquarer clone by Michael Barnathan. As there still seems to be no multiplayer support on this version, I would suggest that MetaTools get in touch with him, as his understanding of the back end of the game is bested (possibly) by only Scott Kim and Ian Gilman.

  13. Hi Curt,

    I actually did work on the server application they were building for a short period of time, and in fact nearly completed it. Unfortunately, the whole project kind of fell through when it was time for their front-end developer to start writing the client to interface with this server and we discovered that he couldn’t use sockets. To my knowledge, that ended that (you can’t really build a networked application of any sort without that knowledge and they weren’t interested in looking for a new front-end developer). The project never formally ended, but I haven’t heard anything from them in over a year and the domain I transferred to them for use in their promotion has since gone dead (had I known they’d let it lapse, I wouldn’t have transferred it in the first place).

    At some point I plan to pick up where I left off right before MetaTools began remaking it and work out a multiplayer Flash version of the game. Unfortunately, I’m now in the midst of defending my doctoral dissertation and it isn’t something I have the time to focus on. Interest has also waned significantly over the past 12 years, and I’m in doubt that the population today would be sufficient for online play to be useful. I will, however, be happy to help any aspiring developers out with the relevant algorithms should they be interested in reviving the game.

    Best Regards,

  14. DewmanJR says:

    I’ll be DLing this app for sure! I use to be ranked 210 in Metasquares back when AOL was there, names like GODMETA, DEWMANJR, METAPOLICEOWNZ

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